[ Wednesday, February 26, 2003 ]


From ELI's HIPAAwire:
STOCKTON, Calif (HIPAA Wire) A device currently being used to inform restaurant-goers when their table is ready will now be performing double duty for family members of patients undergoing surgical procedures.

Families awaiting word of their relative's surgery results at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Stockton, Calif. will receive portable pagers that will alert them when the patient is ready to be moved or discharged.

The pagers, called "glowsters" and created by FL-based JTECH Communications Inc., are already in use at restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, and will use flashing lights and vibrations to signal when families should return to the medical center for news of their relative's progress, according to Stockton's The Record.

St. Joseph's is the first health care facility in its area to provide such pagers to family members. The system, implemented last month, has a range of up to two miles, and about 40 pagers have been issued since that time.

A gastroenterologist at St. Joseph's, Dr. George Rishwain, called the system a "good solution to the concern about maintaining patient confidentiality" with privacy regulations, and said the pagers allow families to do less waiting and sitting while their relative is being treated.

Two years ago, the center would walk out and announce patients' names. Later, patients were assigned a four-digit number, but Betty MacKenzie, a first-line supervisor at the center, said the paging system is a "more compassionate way of contacting people," The Record reports.

And the paging system is catching on among health care facilities, JTECH claims. JTECH systems are now in 750 of the nation's 7,000 hospitals, according to Dave Rotella, JTECH's director of business development for health care, who added that the company plans to become involved in staff-to-staff communications in hospitals.

Jeff [4:10 PM]

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